issue 139

 From Issue 139 November/December 2012


Canadian Church boycotts Israel

Members of the United Church of Canada (UCC), the country’s largest Protestant denomination, have voted to support a boycott of goods produced in Israeli settlements on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem.

The motion was one of several recommended by a report released by a church working group last May. Along with calling on the church hierarchy to accept a comprehensive boycott, the report named the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory as a major challenge to a two-state solution in the Middle East.

The UCC had spent years exploring the issue, and talking to Muslim and Christian Palestinians, Jewish Israelis and Jewish Canadians. There were still six hours of contentious debate, during which the church’s General Council members heard testimonies from representatives on both sides of the issue.

The United Church General Council comprises more than 350 delegates from across Canada. Nearly three million Canadians identify themselves with the United Church, according to Statistics Canada. The vote was met with swift condemnation by some members of the Canadian Jewish community, who say a boycott will create an irreparable breakdown of relations between the two religious groups.

At the time of writing voting results were not available but Bruce Gregersen, a United Church General Council officer said voters were ‘substantially in favour’ of the boycott motion.

Other Israel boycott news


Students at South Africa’s University of the Witwatersrand say they are adopting an academic and cultural boycott of Israel in solidarity with the Palestinian people. A statement said the school’s student representative council is calling for an immediate investigation into any academic, financial and cultural relations with Israeli institutions.

The University of Johannesburg last year became the world’s first to impose an academic boycott on Israel, ending its relationship with Ben-Gurion University.



Viva los kangaroos


Adidas has pledged to reduce use of kangaroo skin by 98 per cent over the next 12 months. As part of their long running boycott campaign against Adidas, campaign group Viva! has worked closely with the AWPC (Australian Wildlife Protection Council).

Both organisations have issued a guarded joint congratulation to the German giant for its decision to move away from the use of wildlife in its global business. They say the move will save thousands of these animals from being shot.

Last year we reported news that Adidas, and other large football boot manufacturers, were reducing their use of kangaroo skin because of concerns over cruelty. However, this is the first time that Adidas have committed to a timescale to reduce their use of kangaroo skins. Viva! and AWPC are reiterating their calls for kangaroo skin to banished entirely from football equipment and will be encouraging Adidas to drop the last 2 per cent of kangaroo skin they intend to use.

The long-running boycott will continue until the company commits to banning kangaroo products across its whole range. The Co-operative Asset Management’s Responsible Investment team (an institutional investor with a significant number of shares in Adidas) had also made their concerns about the continuing use of kangaroo leather clear to the company in response to this campaign.


Manchester United boycott


In August the Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) called for a worldwide boycott of all products made by the sponsors of Manchester United.

The boycott includes GM, a major sponsor of the team along with AON, DHL, BWIN, Casillero Del Diablo Wines, Hublot, Smirnoff, Mister Potato, Nike, Chevrolet, Singha Beer, Thomas Cook, Turkish Airlines, Epson, STC, PCCW Telecommunications, GlobalCom, Viva Kuwait, MTN, Airtel, Zong, Globul, TM Telecommunications, Viva Telecommunications, Turk Telekom, A.P. Honda, Airtel
Africa, Beeline Telecommunications.

The call is part of a long-running campaign against the team’s owners, the Glazer family, who put the club into around £400million of debt to buy the club.



Babybel ends toy offer


Disability groups in France called for a boycott of Babybel cheese in July after the company ran a marketing campaign that used the phrase ‘Mentally ill holidays’.

A promotional summer toy that featured the words was included as a free gift in bags of Mini Babybel. The company said the expression: “des vacances de malade mental,” was intended as a fun wordplay on a common French term to mean ‘extraordinary’.

Babybel have since apologised and is now trying to take the product off shelves. Disability groups have now limited their boycott to the packs containing the toys.